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Tour of Flanders invites 208-rider peloton

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Winning smile: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

Winning smile: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The riders gather at the start for the 2012 Tour of Flanders

The riders gather at the start for the 2012 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Tour of Flanders organisers today announced the seven wildcard teams which will join the now 19 WorldTour squads on the start line for the 97th Tour of Flanders on March 31.

Flanders Classics, organiser of the Tour of Flanders, had originally planned on having 25 eight-man teams (18 World Tour plus seven Pro Continental) start the race, but with the Katusha Team winning their case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to gain entry to the WorldTour, there are now 19 WorldTour teams. The organisers had already promised that seven Pro Continental teams would receive wildcard entries and rather than reduce that number to six they've received permission from the UCI, for this edition only, to exceed the normal cap on race entrants of 200 and allow 208 starters, 26 teams of eight riders, to compete.

Receiving wildcard invitations to the 2013 Tour of Flanders are all three Belgian Pro Continental teams, Accent Jobs-Wanty, Crelan-Euphony and Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, plus Team Europcar, Vini-Fantini-Selle Italia, Team NetApp-Endura and IAM Cycling.

For the German Team NetApp-Endura squad this is the sixth wildcard invitation of the 2013 season as the team hopes to receive a coveted selection for the Tour de France in July. "We celebrated our premiere last year at the Ronde," said team manager Ralph Denk. "We had two riders, Andreas Schillinger and Daniel Schorn, in the lead group for more than 150 kilometers. Once again, we showed that we don’t shy away from the big races and can even make them more attractive."

The Tour of Flanders will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013 and the route will follow the new course concept presented in 2012. The Muur van Geraardsbergen will once again not be featured while the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg will be climbed three times each as part of three finishing circuits prior to the conclusion in Oudenaarde.

The 2012 edition was won by Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who became the fourth rider in history to win the Belgian Classic three times.

Tour of Flanders

WorldTour teams
AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
Blanco Pro Cycling Team (Ned)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Cannondale Pro Cycling (Ita)
Euskaltel Euskadi (Spa)
FDJ (Fra)
Garmin - Sharp (USA)
Katusha Team (Rus)
Lampre - Merida (Ita)
Lotto Belisol (Bel)
Movistar Team (Spa)
Omega Pharma - Quick Step Cycling Team (Bel)
Orica - GreenEdge (Aus)
RadioShack - Leopard (Lux)
Sky Procycling (GBr)
Team Argos - Shimano (Ned)
Team Saxo - Tinkoff (Den)
Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

Wildcard selections
Accent Jobs-Wanty (Bel)
Crelan-Euphony (Bel)
IAM Cycling (Swi)
Team Europcar (Fra)
Team NetApp-Endura (Ger)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Bel)
Vini Fantini-Selle Italia

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